Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ingredient of the Day: Infused Oil & Vinegar

Infusing oils & vinegars is so simple it'd be laughable if it didn't add so much to cooking. They add such a depth of flavour to salads, vegetables, or anything you use oil or vinegar for, (hahaha.) They also make lovely gifts. You can tailor your recipes to the favourite tastes of friend & loved ones.

This particular oil blend has:
  • Lots of lemon zest
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • Lemon scented thyme (crushed to release oils)
This 'recipe'--if you can call it that ;0)--was born, because I really wanted garlic flavour on some roasted potatoes, but I didn't want the burnt taste of overdone garlic pieces. If you use it right after mixing it is very subtle (garlic-wise.) If you want strong garlic flavour right away, or you aren't worried about burning, just chop the garlic cloves just mash 'em with a garlic press or fork.
You can use different oils, of course, so it's adaptable and healthful.

I've tried a spicy rendition for Christmas gifts that was very well received just by combining:
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • A few chili pepper flakes
  • Garlic cloves (peeled & crushed)
  • & Rosemary
Any herb you like is great. The woody herbs (like rosemary, thyme, sage...) seem to keep longer but tarragon, dill, cilantro, chives, green onions...and so on...impart lovely flavours. I've been salivating over the idea of an oil infused with my new curry plant (though I've read it's more fragrant than flavourful...we'll see. I'll let you know...)

Other great flavours are: ginger, lemon grass, bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, dill seed, fennel seed, celery seed, Fenugreek, cumin, clove, cumin...well really any spice, heehee :0) Many will be best cut (lemon grass) crushed or grated.

Keeping your concoctions in the fridge ensures there's no unwanted bacterial business from the herbs...The vinegars are naturally antibacterial so they last longer unrefrigerated.

Vinegars, even the cheapest, are really improved by adding aromatics. Blends are nice too: A mix of white vinegar with red wine vinegar gives you that rosé colour, but is clear enough that it still lets the herbs show to their best advantage. I really like the flavour too. White balsamic vinegar is simply dreamy and so attractive. You can choose all kinds of pretty bottles for gifts--or for you! :0)

Happy easy culinary alchemy,


Anonymous said...

you have just inspired me to grow some herbs this year i love spring!i am awake sitting by computer with furnace on at 4 a.m the arthritis pain woke me up my landlady is so cheap the new windows are single pane and i swear they leak plus my bed is right between 2 windows ..will have to do something about that ...took a tyl3 got to get some lakota to try out.
back to the vinegar i used up a tarragon one for a very long time many years ago when you gave me fancy bottle as gift. thanks again love your mom

Deb Neerman said...

Oh, yes, I love to make these infusions! When I lived in Connecticut and had a humongous herb garden, I made 'em all the time.

Love me a chive blossom vinegar!